Social fourth-quarter analysis and outlook

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. A reinvention of business
  3. Holacracy and the commons
  4. A more bounded rethinking of management
  5. A different social contract
  6. Unbundled and consumerized
  7. Fighting the last war
  8. Near-term outlook
  9. About Stowe Boyd

1. Summary

The last quarter of 2013 had a true millennial feel, the sense that we were in a liminal moment bridging two eras of work practices and technologies, and where nearly everything of interest represented the rise of the new or the decline of the old.

Key highlights during the fourth quarter in the social technologies space include these:

  • A reinvention of business — There is a broad collection of new ideas about more humanist and lean approaches to management and organization attracting new adherents and great interest across the board. The recent announcement of Zappos adopting Holacracy is a high-profile example.
  • Unbundled and consumerized — Some major foundational trends are impacting everything from the way new startups can grow to a billion-dollar valuation with 13 employees, to the changing relationship of artists and recording labels, to the nature of the social contract. These are all examples of the power of networks to disrupt bureaucracies. The same thing happens inside businesses, with centralized IT being a vulnerable bureaucracy.
  • Fighting the last war — Microsoft is the best example of a former world-beater continuing to operate the way it did in its heyday, even though the world has moved on. The question is, can a new CEO turn the boat around before it runs aground?

This quarterly wrap-up analyzes these events and trends, and provides a near-term outlook for the next 18 to 24 months.

Feature image courtesy Flickr user Johan Larsson

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